The Big Sky week nine schedule is complete and two teams are left standing among the undefeated in the conference. Both North Dakota and Eastern Washington held off both of their opponents and will go into November at the top of the conference with three left to play. North Dakota held off a pesky Weber State team at home after falling behind early to the Wildcats. Eastern Washington got a kick in the teeth from the Griz offense right away then Cooper Kupp and Gage Gabrud took the game over. That’s basically the tl;dr of the Eastern/Montana game.
Northern Colorado kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over Portland State this weekend. The game found itself in overtime after the teams inexplicably ended the game at 49 apiece. Northern Colorado had a 29 point third quarter. Brandon Cartagena put this defensive struggle to bed with a ten yard run in overtime. Cal Poly kept its roll going with another defensive struggle against 1-8 Sacramento State. The Mustangs and Hornets combined for 47 points in the fourth quarter but when it was said and done the Mustangs continue their march to the playoffs.
The Big Sky MVP race is starting to tighten up and below it’s listed out for you to read. However, this comes down to basically three players. Gage Gabrud, Cooper Kupp, and Joe Protheroe. Of those three, it really comes down to two, and it’s between the two Eastern Washington players. At this point there is no one going to rip that away from them. My hunch right now is that Gabrud is probably the leader in the clubhouse, but I don’t have a vote so my opinion counts about as much as the money used to buy Baltic Avenue.
Weber State 19
North Dakota 27
Eastern Washington 35
Southern Utah 52
Idaho State 27
Northern Colorado 56
Portland State 49
Cal Poly 59
Sacramento State 47
Big Sky Player of the Week
I could give this to Cooper Kupp and that’d be the easy thing to do. However, I’m going to deviate. This week’s Big Sky player of the week is Northern Colorado quarterback Kyle Sloter. Sloter was 20/31 for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns in the UNC victory over Portland State. He also added one rushing touchdown on 45 yards.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington. 21/37, 327 yards and four touchdown, 2 INTs.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington. 8 receptions for 140 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Emmanuel Butler, WR, Northern Arizona. Idle.
Joe Protheroe, RB, Cal Poly. 25 carries, 168 yards, 1 touchdown. 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 touchdown.
Caleb Kidder, LB, Montana. 3 tackles.
Big Sky Power Rankings
1. Eastern Washington
2. North Dakota
3. Cal Poly
4. Northern Arizona
5. Northern Colorado
7. Weber State
8. Southern Utah
9. Portland State
10. Idaho State
12. Sacramento State
13. Montana State
Looking Ahead to Week 10
Montana State will kick the week off by traveling to Cedar City to take on Southern Utah. Northern Arizona will head north to take on Weber State. North Dakota will make the trek to Greeley to take on North Dakota in what could be a surprisingly good game. Portland State will cruise south to take on UC-Davis. Eastern Washington will hit the road to take on Cal Poly in what should be a good matchup. Idaho State will be in Missoula to take on the Griz.
Final Thoughts and Hot Takes
– Not a great two weeks, Griz fans. But fear not, two of the next three games feature two of the worst teams in the conference.
– The top six in the Big Sky conference are all still fighting for a playoff spot. Eastern Washington basically has their spot locked up. Northern Arizona may be in too deep of a hole to get into the playoffs. Weber State, Montana, Northern Colorado and Cal Poly are all fighting for their spot. Only two or three of those teams are going to get an invite. The November race is going to be a tight one.
– Cooper Kupp, after watching him play both of the last two weeks, I think I’ve decided that I’d probably draft him onto my football team if I was a person who had a football team to draft players to.
– Seriously, how does anyone slow down Kupp, Shaq Hill and Kendrick Bourne? What a trio of weapons at the fingertips of Gage Gabrud. If Beau Baldwin could figure out that whole “not gonna play defense” thing the Eagles could be serious contenders for a national title.
– It’s a shame that North Dakota didn’t get to see Eastern Washington and Montana this season. It would be interesting to see how that team matched up against two of the better teams in the conference. I wonder if their record would stand as it does right now.
– That leads me to my next point. It’s time to change FCS football. Sit down, this is a hot take coming. With the title game being moved to after New Year’s why aren’t we pushing the playoffs back a week and having conference championships for those who need it? Divide these massive conferences such as the Big Sky, CAA, MEAC, Missouri Valley, OVC, Pioneer, Southland, and SWAC into divisions, hold a true conference championship. By doing so you can get your true auto bid team. Plus with divisions you get the chance to play your division plus 2-3 teams from the other division. You solve a lot of schedule problems, as well as playoff seeding, this way. /rant
– Seems like Washington State needs a Big Sky team to kick them in the teeth to get their team motivated. Last year Portland State, this year Eastern Washington, and the Cougars are now in the hunt for the Pac12 North title. Strange times in Pullman.